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How to start your freelancing career (and why you might want to!)

Many professionals are drawn to the idea of freelancing – the flexible schedule, relative freedom and more creative working environment -- are possible perks of this alternative work style that are worth consideration. Moving from gaining extra cash or pursuing a hobby to a full-fledged freelancing career is like a revolution ... you'll find yourself in a completely new professional context and it will take time to navigate the freelancing lifestyle. 

Here are 6 tips to help you launch a successful career as a freelancer.

1. Identify your goals and make a plan

Before you quit your job to start working on your own, analyze your needs and define your goals. Your primary goal will be supporting yourself, so start thinking about how much you should charge for your work, how many projects per month you will pursue and how many potential clients you'll need to have on an ongoing basis to make a living.

You'll be the one managing your projects and scheduling your time, so make sure you know which tools can help you in that pursuit – choose tools from simple ones like Google Calendar,  to more robust ones such as Insightly(an online customer relationship management and project management tool).

2. Pick a form of business that suits you

There are many ways that you can choose to operate your freelancing business. You can set up a sole proprietorship for your unincorporated business, or establish a legal entity for your operation, for instance a limited liability company or corporation.

Many freelancers choose to set up limited liability companies (LLC), because you get all the benefits of a legal entity without having to deal with the hassle of corporation. Make sure to educate yourself on the financial and legal aspects of your operation.

3. Develop your brand

Your personal brand greatly influences your professional brand, so be cautious about what you show to the world on the web. Set up a strong personal LinkedIn profile promoting yourself as a freelancer and actively participate in relevant LinkedIn groups. Add value to groups discussions to build your credibility as an expert.

Remember that promotion and marketing are at the core of every freelancing business – take spending time on such activities into account when planning your schedule and making financial predictions.

4. Get yourself out there

Yes, a nice website showcasing your portfolio is a must, but it's certainly not the only way to get business. Choose networks that are relevant to your industry and market yourself in a few different channels. You can advertise your services to targeted clients on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook, as well as promote your business on niche social media that you know your potential clients check. 

5. Network

Many freelancers work alone, but that doesn’t mean you should become a loner. On the contrary, be a networker – developing new connections with clients is crucial for your continued operation. Meet other freelancers on professional networking events to receive advice and support when needed. Consider renting a co-working office to meet like-minded people who can help you build your business.

6. Don't lose faith in yourself

If you're having doubts about your ability to launch a successful freelancing venture, maybe it's too early. Take active steps to prepare to operate on your own. Yes, you will panic, question your abilities and doubt yourself. Fight the urge to give up and, instead, change your attitude ... you can do it! Everyone, even the most successful entrepreneurs, had to start somewhere and this is your chance to show the world what you can do.

With preparation, a good plan for branding and financial know-how, you'll be on your way to launching a long and incredibly satisfying career as a freelancer.

Guest post by Cindy Boesel. Cindy is interested in brand building strategies and self-development. She works at BizStats.co.uk and follows the latest trends in the global startup scene. Thank you, Cindy! -- Kathy


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